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Why are U.S. troops staying in Iraq?

From the start of the campaign, there was ample reason to believe that Barack Obama's pledge to withdraw U.S. troops from Iraq was dubious at best. Now, the LA Times provides further confirmation:

The White House is prepared to keep as many as 10,000 U.S. troops in Iraq after the end of the year, amid growing concern that the planned pullout of virtually all remaining American forces would lead to intensified militant attacks, according to U.S. officials.

Keeping troops in Iraq after the deadline for their departure at the end of December would require agreement of Iraq's deeply divided government, which is far from certain. The Iraqis so far have not made a formal request for U.S. troops to remain, according to the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

If the 50,000 troops currently in Iraq are unable to stem the tide of what the Times describes as "near daily" car bomb and other attacks, what will 10,000 do? Are they to serve, as they do in South Korea, as a down payment on a future influx in the event the security situation inside Iraq really runs off the rails? I think we're long past the fantasies of using Iraq as a "springboard" for some kind of invasion of Iran, but it would be nice if the administration sketched out its thinking here.